Tuesday, April 5, 2022


The original runtime of THE QUEEN OF SHEBA, released in 1952, was 110 minutes. Nearly 2 hours. The US cut stands at 92 minutes, which is 18 minutes cut from the original release. Were some cuts justified? Personally, no. In its original runtime, the movie feels more epic and complete. I've always watched the abbreviated English version, and even though I felt it was a bit too fast or compact, I always loved it. Directed by Pietro Francisci, this movie was a preview of Francisci worldwide hit, HERCULES (1958). Some scenes were shot in the same locations and some scenes have a direct atmosphere of the Steve Reeves movie. So, for that reason alone, THE QUEEN OF SHEBA is always fun to watch. But as much as I like it in its 92 cut, I feel the uncut version is so much better. Oddly enough, the movie is also often shown in Italian in its abbreviated cut. I have that version as well. But the uncut version is the only one worth watching. Will any future release in English include those missing scenes? I hope so.

I won't go over all the cuts scenes, many of which are short moments shaved off here and there. I'll go over two scenes here. Both of these cuts occur during the trek to Sheba. The actors are Gino Leurini, as Prince Rehoboam, and Umberto Silvestri, as his muscular companion Isachar.

Immediately after seeing the two men leave the kingdom of Solomon, the Prince and Isachar camp for the night. This scene lasts nearly 4 minutes. Even though it's in Italian, I get the point of the scene: the two men talk about the course of their trek, even showing a map. 

On the map (below), we see a road going through the Valley of Silence. The valley is a dangerous place to travel through. Just some minor noise can trigger a major rock slide. Since this scene is cut in the US copy, when the two travel through this valley, we don't know this tidbit of information. In the cut version, we only see them ride precariously through the valley and since they remain silent, we don't know about the Valley of Silence. This valley would be the setting for the movie's climax. So, this missing scene, imo, is crucial to the storyline. 


Directly after the night camp scene with the map, the two ride towards Sheba and come across a line of people on crucifixes. They talk briefly about this before moving on only to be ambushed by soldiers from Sheba. This scene is brief but in the cut version, the crucifixes are not even brought up. We simply see them in the background when the two are captured by the soldiers. It's a brief scene, for sure, but even so it adds a lot to the epic feel of the storyline.


Addendum: The other big scenes cut from the movie are a scene with Balkis interrupts a handmaidens chat (above), about 2 minutes long, and Balkis, the Queen of Sheba (Leonora Ruffo), taking a bath/dressing, which lasts about 3 minutes, followed by an 'audience' scene which is roughly 2 minutes long.

Adding the runtime of these cut scenes and it's about 12 minutes in total.

If THE QUEEN OF SHEBA ever gets a proper Blu-ray release in the future, let's hope the uncut version will be included, with restored English audio for those missing scenes?


Anonymous said...

I have photos of Sheba in a bathtub which isn't in my DVD. Is that also in the uncut version or is it just for publicity? I love the film too.

Anonymous said...

In my view THE QUEEN OF SHEBA is one of the best Peplums ever.

PEPLUM TV said...

I just updated the article. The answer is yes.